Addicted Babies

Addicted Babies

Addicted Babies

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Babies born addicted to opiates will spend the first days to weeks of their lives going through withdrawal.
It’s called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
Babies born addicted to opiates will spend the first days to weeks of their lives going through withdrawal.

The condition is a result of a pregnant mother actively using drugs (most commonly opiate painkillers, heroin or crack cocaine) while pregnant. The child essentially becomes addicted in utero. When the baby is born they suffer the same withdrawal symptoms any heroin addict may experience. As the drug supply once provided by their mother disappears, the newborn immediately goes into withdrawal.

According to some health professionals, not all babies who were given drugs in utero are born addicted to drugs. But the babies that are born addicted experience very disturbing side effects.  Health professionals report that the symptoms—malnourishment, unwillingness or inability to eat, diarrhea, seizures and tremors, practically allergic to light and any sort of physical contact—are very painful and cause babies with NAS to suffer a great deal.

The number of babies born addicted to drugs has tripled in the last decade. The rates are especially high in heavily troubled states such as Tennessee and Florida, where the opiate epidemic is seeing some of the worst numbers.  Florida is reporting the highest numbers of addicted babies. Much of this is a simple cause of the “Pill Mills” and “Oxy-Express” culture that has plagued Florida for a better part of the last decade.  Opiate pills and even heroin are very easy to obtain in the state of Florida, although legislation is being passed to remedy that problem.

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The data does suggest some interesting findings.  In the 80’s doctors reported a much higher rate of babies who were born addicted to drugs like crack cocaine or methamphetamine. Now, hospitals are reporting much higher rates of opiate addiction with drugs such as Vicodin or Oxycontin.

While it is certainly possible that addicted pregnant woman are using illicit drugs obtained through the street market, it is estimated that in Tennesse, 60% of all mothers who gave birth to babies with NAS were using the drugs legally, and obtained the drugs with a valid prescription through a legitimate doctor.  This is to say that these soon to be mother’s were using narcotic drugs with approval from a doctor, and still they gave birth to babies addicted to drugs.

Child Services and Custody:  In Indiana, law requires that if a child is born with any amount of a controlled substance, the child will be designated as a “child in need of service”.  Consequently, the child will be removed from the custody of the mother and place with the Department of Child services.

Indiana Code: 31-34-1-10
A child in need of services if:(1) the child is born with:
(A) fetal alcohol syndrome; or
(B) any amount, including a trace amount, of a controlled substance or a legend drug in the child’s body; and
(2) the child needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation that:
(A) the child is not receiving; or
(B) is unlikely to be provided or accepted without the coercive intervention of the court.
Indiana Code: 31-34-1-11
A child is not a child in need of services under section 10 or 11 of this chapter if:(1) a drug detected in the body of the child under section 10(1) of this chapter or the condition described in section 11(1) of this chapter was caused by a legend drug; and
(2) during pregnancy the child’s mother:
(A) possessed a valid prescription for the legend drug;
(B) was not in violation of IC 16-42-19 (the Indiana legend drug act); and
(C) made a good faith attempt to use the legend drug according to the prescription instructions.